#3 - IF YOU'RE GOOD AT ONE THING, DO THAT THING
Soundcheck. Check. Heh.
I squint past Jay and his guitar for a glimpse of the room beyond the stage. My Joy-radar has been going off in rapid pulses throughout my body since I dropped behind my kit a few minutes ago. Scanning the darkness, I absently twirl my sticks up and around my knuckles as I search for her. I never spoke to her at lunch. Thought about it, but she seemed super into her turkey wrap, and honestly, I’m still not convinced she’s single. Yeah, I know what Jesse said, but even super-geniuses have been known to be wrong on occasion. There was this one time my cousin (also a super-genius) thought because he was good at researching spaceships and shit, he’d also be good at changing the oil in his car. Ended up burning down his garage, and the neighbor’s shed, and had to buy a whole new car on top of it. All to save forty bucks. Just because you can understand fractoids and allergisms, doesn’t mean you know every freaking thing.
Joy’s laugh finds me before I find her. I only have one in-ear monitor in while I wait for the guys to finish messing with their pedal boards, so it leaves the other ear open to receive the glorious song of laughter. Specifically Joy’s, which I’d recognize in a dark room, from yards away, amidst countless distractions. Well, like now, actually. In this scenario of a dark room from yards way with lots of distractions.
My gaze darts to the sound and sure enough, there she is, leaning against a column thing and chatting with Cora, the other merch girl. When we make eye contact, her laughter stalls, though the smile stays fixed on her face. I blink through the frantic slam of my heart against my ribs, suddenly unsure and glancing behind me. Maybe she’s staring at someone else? Nope, just a black curtain at my back. Unless she loves curtains. Chicks like fabric and stuff, right? They make scrapbooks and book sleeves with it. Why do I even know what a book sleeve is? Shit, it’s probably that. I study the curtain again, longer this time but don’t see anything that would make a cool book sleeve. Could her smile really be directed at me? I swallow hard, both disappointed and relieved when Jesse calls us to attention.
Shoving my other IEM into my ear, I flip the sticks into my palms to prepare to do what I do best. If Joy’s watching, I gotta make sure there’s extra pep in my step. Fingeratively, of course, since I’m sitting, unless you count my feet stepping on the kick drum and hi-hat pedals. Extra pep in my pedals… heh. Gotta remember that one for a photo caption.
As the merch girl, Joy rarely gets to see us perform. Usually, she’s stuck out in the lobby somewhere selling t-shirts and stickers and whatnot. Or if it’s a small venue, in the very back of the room where she’d never be able to see over the crowd. I know I’m not the sharpest bulb in the shed, I get that. I’m also not underwear model good-looking like Jesse. “Cute,” Songset Magazine called me in our Limelight feature a few months ago. Jesse was devastating, whatever the hell that means. Jay was enigmatic. Reece was… I don’t remember. Something about a cucumber farmer? Or maybe that was the next article. They all run together. Anywho, my point is I know I’m not the top of the food chain when it comes to the ladies, but when I’m behind the kit, I can get pretty damn close.
Today, I’m going in for the kill.
Joy shoots me a targeted grin I feel in my bloodstream. It results in an unintentional drum fill, that then results in a fiery glare from Jesse who was in the middle of directing the tech team. Shit. I force an apologetic look before he turns back to the front to finish his instructions. I grip the sticks harder, balancing my fists on my bouncing knees to keep them from erupting again.
Joy is giggling now. My grin grows.
Hashtag worth it.
“Let’s run ‘Jonas’ to get levels,” Jesse says, casting another direct look at me. I can feel his eyes narrow when he catches me focused on something other than him. I tear my attention away from Joy and salute him.
“Aye-aye, cap’n,” I say. “‘Jonas’ all day.”
He rolls his eyes. “Just cue the track, D,” he mutters.
I salute him again and trigger the click-track to begin the song.
Once the music starts, I settle into the zone. Drums are like breathing. You do it without thinking, unless you want to enjoy it, then you lock-in and let go. Today, I let go. I let go hard and fast and propel myself full-speed into the one thing I know how to do. And yeah, maybe my eyes keep tracking a direct path to the back of the room. Maybe I’m not surprised when Joy’s smile fades and she straightens a little. Maybe I’m even a little smug about it all, because I may not be a super-genius, but I’m a damn good drummer. A cute good drummer, and yep, I think Joy may have just realized that too.